Rozie, AUWU member
8 August 2016
I was given a job plan and told I must sign it immediately. When I questioned my caseworker if I was legally required to do this she said that if I didn’t, my benefits may be cancelled. After I told her that as a member of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union, I was aware of my right to take the “contract” home to read it, I asked her again if I was legally required to sign the job plan that day. Her reply this time was “no”.
My next meeting was a month later with a new, and hopefully more honest, caseworker. I produced my signed job plan but hadn’t signed the privacy statement as I had a number of concerns. The statement said in part:
I understand that the information I provide may be used by AMES Consortium and the department of Employment. It may also be given to:
- Organisations listed under the AMES Consortium that I am referred to for assessment or training.
- Any other assessment or training providers.
I told the CW that I was concerned that if I signed this document, I would be giving AMES Consortium permission to forward my details to ANY assessment or training providers. I also stated that as I had already completed the highest level of training needed to perform the tasks of my profession, I could not understand how AMES could believe I would benefit from “further training”.
When I asked for further information about specific training courses he thought would increase my chances of finding employment, he was unable to provide this.
I then asked the CW if I was legally required to sign this document. His first answer was yes. He also stated that if I didn’t sign it, he would be obliged to report me to Centrelink and that my benefits would be reduced or cancelled.
It was at this point that I asked to speak to the office manager. She informed me that I was legally obliged to sign the document. I didn’t believe this so I questioned her further and also asked her to clarify which, if any, “assessment” or “training providers” my personal information would be sent to. She seemed unable to answer this question beyond a vague reassurance that further training and assessment would greatly increase my chances of finding employment.
The office manager stated that if I didn’t sign the document, AMES would be obliged to report me to Centrelink and that this would affect my eligibility to receive Newstart payments. She also stated that they would be unable to sign me up to their “job club” or to provide “individually tailored employment assistance”. I replied that I was more than capable of writing job applications and arranging interviews and as such, could not see the benefit of attending their office for weekly job club pep talks.
After once again asking the office manager if I was obliged to sign the privacy statement, she finally conceded that I was not legally required to do so.
It was a great outcome because I was then able to spend all my time job searching at home instead of having to travel to their office.
I’ve now started a new full-time job and I did it all on my own without further “assessment” or “training” provided by AMES Consortium.